One question our team is continually asked is how to optimize web forms. What’s the best structure for forms? How long should they be? How many fields should be included?

Answers to these questions vary depending on intent and context, but there are general guidelines that you can follow to make sure you are optimizing your forms. Sticking to a set of best practices can help you create and tweak new and existing forms so that they drive more conversions.

Use the list below as a standard for creating your forms. For each step, check out the example provided underneath to see how other companies are using these guidelines for their own forms.

Step 1. Pay attention to design. The look and feel of your design affects the perception of your credibility, intent, and value. Use a color palette that complements the rest of your site, and make sure your form contrasts enough that it stands out.

Twitter sign-up form

Twitter’s sign up form has been integrated into the overall site design using complimentary colors and positioning.

Step 2. Clearly state the value. What will a prospect get for filling out your form? How will they benefit? If they’re signing up for a newsletter, how frequently should they expect to receive emails? If the purpose of the form isn’t obvious, prospects will most likely ignore it.

Emma sign-up form

Emma, an email marketing service, explains the benefits of their service in text above and beside their form, in addition to providing an informative video.

Step 3. Choose the right location. Position your form above the fold of the page so that prospects don’t have to spend time looking for it. With every obstacle you place between a prospect and a form, you lose valuable lead generation opportunities.

Hootsuite sign-up form

Hootsuite, a social media management service, has positioned their form at the top of their homepage, far above the fold.

Step 4. Keep your forms short. Avoid excessive scrolling by only using the minimum number of fields necessary. Prospects are wary of giving away too much of their personal information. If you’d like to collect more than just a name, email address, and position title (the standard 3), use progressive profiling for your forms. This allows you to collect additional information by presenting different form fields every time that a prospect returns to fill out another form.

Mailchimp sign-up form

Mailchimp only uses three fields on their sign-up form: email, username, and password.

Step 5. Place your privacy policy prominently on the page. If you’re collecting personal information, prospects will feel encouraged knowing that their information is in good hands.

Twilio sign-up form

Twilio, a cloud communications service, places their privacy policy right underneath the “Get Started” button on their form.

Step 6. Include a strong call to action (CTA). The CTA should mirror what a prospect read in the form introduction or the ad that drove them to the page. Make it stand out from the page using a button, a link, or a different color. The CTA should remind prospects why they are filling out the form in the first place, and what they stand to gain.

Epipheo sign-up form

Internet video studio Epipheo Studios includes a “Free Consultation” call to action and a large “Send” button to drive conversion.

Have you seen any other great forms on other sites? Do you have any recommendations of your own? Let us know!

Jenna Hanington

Posts Twitter

4 responses to 6 Steps to Successful Forms (with Examples!)

  1. Thanks for this post. These are great examples of companies who do it right. The MailChimp layout is probably my favorite. For a simple DIY Landing Page platform, check out Unbounce. There’s no IT required and they offer real time email validation behind the webform, ensuring your prospect doesn’t accidentally- or intentionally- insert an invalid email address. Looking forward to more tips on conversion!

  2. Jenna Hanington August 1, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    Thanks for the comment and the feedback, Maria!

  3. Jenna, great advice! Can all of these examples including graphics options etc. be enabled with Pardot forms? Thanks!

    • Thanks, Duard! Glad you found the post useful. The examples shown in the article were not necessarily made using Pardot, but you can do all of the things mentioned in the post with Pardot’s landing page and form builders (including styling, positioning, form fields, etc).

      Hope that helps!